Things are looking pretty bleak right now for Jeff Blashill and the Detroit Red Wings. The team is 7-22-3 and mired in a 12-game losing streak. Detroit boasts a horrific minus-62 goal differential and is two losses from the franchise record.
This streak is the second of its kind this season as the Wings won only once in 14 games from Oct. 12 to Nov. 6. Detroit’s futility this season is reminiscent back to the “Dead Wings” era of the 1970s through the early 1980s.
General manager Steve Yzerman said that he’s going to spend the 2019-20 season taking notes and evaluating the team. He pretty much admitted that this was going to be a rebuilding season. However, he must be asking himself if Blashill is the right coach going forward.
Red Wings, Jeff Blashill Stuck in Funk
Detroit Free Press beat reporter Helene St. James said that coaches often pay the price if a team underperforms. The Red Wings roster is still feeling the aftereffects of some of the bad deals the former GM Ken Holland left them. There are rookies that are out of their depth, veterans playing out the string and borderline NHLers.
One can forgive a team for losing by a goal or two but still fighting every second. This year’s Red Wings squad is giving their all, but many of the team’s losses have been ugly. Detroit has lost 15 of its 22 defeats by three goals or more. It’s one thing to lose games by a goal or two because the other team has superior talent. However, the blowouts have been coming fast and furious.
Detroit has been stuck on 17 points for weeks now and are anchored to the bottom of the Atlantic Division behind the Ottawa Senators, who are putting out some wins and good effort despite being picked to finish in the lottery.
Closing in on Infamy
The Red Wings also closing in on the 1974-75 Washington Capitals and 1992-93 San Jose Sharks on the longest losing streak in league history with 17. Blashill has been coaching Detroit for the last five seasons and helped cultivate many of the younger players when he was in charge of AHL Grand Rapids.
He’s well-respected in the organization, but a coaching change may happen if things don’t shape up. Yzerman would like to keep his word and do something after the season. However, the drumbeats are getting louder as Blashill’s name trends on Twitter each time there’s an embarrassing loss.
Ansar Khan of MLive.com speculated why Yzerman hasn’t pulled the trigger, but the Red Wings general manager keeps things close to the vest. Yzerman doesn’t talk to the media that much but did praise Blashill and the staff on Nov. 20 at the general manager meetings.
However, those words came before nine straight losses. Things might have changed for Yzerman in that time and being trapped in the midst of a historically bad streak and team may change his tune.
Who Takes Over
If Blashill is fired, one would think former Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma would take over on an interim basis. Bylsma is the lead assistant on the Wings’ bench and a coach that some would like to get another shot at coaching.
The Red Wings job would be a coveted one with any number of qualified candidates vying for the opening. Bylsma would likely finish out the season to ensure some form of continuity.
What It Means
Yzerman would love to have a full season to make a decision, but he can’t keep ignoring the outcry. Watching the team get blown out on a consistent basis has to make Yzerman think long and hard about making some kind of coaching change.
The Red Wings are en route to having a season-ending goal differential that could rival the 1974-75 Capitals. This team has been bad at all phases of the game and gives up a league-worst 3.69 a game. Change many finally have to come to salvage some sort of pride. The price for getting at least a top-four pick in the 2020 NHL Draft is turning into an awfully high one.
DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 30: Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill complains about a penalty with the referee during the Detroit Red Wings game versus the Montreal Canadiens on November 30, 2017, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)